Tiny Bits of Gratitude

Gratitude is becoming a bit of a buzz word in the circles of self -care education. More and more, we hear that practicing gratitude on a regular basis is a way to remember what we are fortunate to have in our lives, even when things feel frustrating, hard and hopeless. Having a gratitude practice has been touted to relieve depression,  increase "feel good" hormones like dopamine and oxytocin and even have positive effects on chronic diseases. And I totally agree with all of this!

But feeling thankful is not always easy. In fact, it can get decidedly harder, the more difficult our lives become. Sometimes, it can be hard to find the silver lining and it can feel forced or fake. Reading some of the current articles about gratitude and ways to connect with being thankful, I feel like we are missing the smaller steps that are sometimes needed to connect to those larger perspectives.  

When I feel challenged in connecting with the big picture of wonderful things in my life, I try to remember that having gratitude does not have to be a big gesture or be extended towards something exceptional. On mornings when I am tired and not completely motivated to work, I try to just be thankful I have a hot cup of coffee to keep me company. When I am stuck in traffic and losing patience, I try to take a deep breath and be glad that I have music that I like to listen to, even if Im trapped at a red light. Yes, there are times when I am able to feel fully grateful for my health, my loved ones and my work- all the great gifts in my life. And when I can't quite reach that level of thankfulness, I know that any effort moves me towards a more healthy place. Those smaller steps keep me moving towards the big picture of gratitude.

This time of year is full of moments that are exciting, full of love and happiness. There are often also moments of frustration, stress and sadness. Whether you write it down, say it out loud or share it with a loved one, know that what ever level of gratitude you can extend is perfect. Your unique expression is yours alone and always right for you. I would like to extend my gratitude for all of you who have joined me by reading my writing and sharing your thoughts. Wishing you all a wonderful final week of 2017!

Jennifer Leonard